Along with the iPhone 6, Apple will launch an iPhone payments system next week, according to reports from multiple media outlets with rock-solid histories. It is said that major credit card firms Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are all on board with Apple's new service.
Back in July, The Information reported that Visa has reached a deal with Apple, and then this past weekend, Re/Code said that American Express was on board, plus Bloomberg piled on, claiming that MasterCard was participating as well.
Getting all three credit card networks on board at launch will go a long way towards getting iPhone owners to sign onto the program. It's likely that Apple's Touch ID fingerprint identification protocol will play a large role in the system, allowing customers to make touchless payments at brick-and-mortar retailers with just a fingerprint.
The new iPhone is expected to adopt near-field communication (NFC) technology, something that has been seen in numerous Android devices in the past few years, but that has thus far seen little use by the average consumer.
However, Apple's apparent wide-ranging partnership and massive technological reach may change the entire industry. Apple has hundreds of millions of iTunes and App Store accounts, with more than half a billion stored credit card numbers — likely more than any other company.
Re/Code quotes "industry sources" that claim Apple "believes its iPhone payments system will be as least as secure as traditional payment cards." That shouldn't be too hard to do, particularly following on the heels of massive security breaches at retailers like Target. The report also said that Apple will likely need approval from either the "credit card network or the bank that issued" a customer's credit card for it to be approved for mobile payments. Expect customer demand for the feature to be tremendous, as Apple's track record with customer adoption of its new features is impressive.
Prior to about a month ago, there was not a lot of chatter about an imminent launch for a mobile payments system from Apple, though many outside observers (and CEO Tim Cook, for that matter) thought that Apple might be in a unique position to launch such a service.
However, it would be far from unprecedented for Apple to launch such a platform without any pre-announcement. Apple launched the Siri voice-activated digital assistant at the iPhone 4s introduction, and Touch ID debuted alongside the iPhone 5s last year.
A digital wallet has been the holy grail for many companies over the past decade, with companies from Google to Amazon, PayPal to Yahoo all examining or launching their own payments platforms, though with limited success.
Apple, with its extensive digital market reach through its iTunes and App Stores, and massive hardware platform through the iPhone, will likely succeed where others have failed. We'll just have to wait until Tuesday, September 9th to see exactly what they've been developing.
Would you use an Apple mobile payments platform? Let us know in the comments below.
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.